Dell cooks up cloud recipes with Microsoft, VMware and OpenStack

Would you like a sprinkling of finance on that, sir?

Dell is doubling down on its policy of selling infrastructure, after retreating from its public cloud service provider plan.

The firm, which has carved out a big niche in web-scale server centres, will release plans in the next six months to guide others building their own clouds.

Blueprints will be for Microsoft’s Cloud Platform System (CPS) released late in 2014, OpenStack and VMware. Dell is already partnering with Microsoft on CPS, delivering a version of Redmond's Azure cloud in a Dell box.

The target demographic is enterprises building hybrid clouds and service providers.

Blueprints are expected to target vertical sectors, such as oil and gas, retail or travel, and different workloads, such as analytics or mobile, and be based on a combination of Dell hardware and software from outside Dell, such as Hadoop.

Dell had already been pushing blueprints, but the expansion is significant and comes under the stewardship of Dell’s recently named vice president and general manager of engineered solutions and cloud, Jim Ganthier.

Ganthier joined Dell from server, systems and cloud rival Hewlett-Packard in January.

The programme is being driven by Paul Perez, chief technology officer of Dell enterprise, who was plucked from Cisco Systems – where he was vice president and general manager of computing systems – by Ganthier in March.

Nick Hyner, Dell EMEA director of cloud services, told The Reg at Cloud World Forum: “We are coming up with blueprints that will be released in the next six months.”

Blueprints are part of a broader policy of seeing off potential competition from low-priced server rivals emerging in Asia – Lenovo, Huawei and Inspur Electronics.

It’s insufficient to simply try and undercut such firms on price, especially in the service-provider market, where carriers are being squeezed on price and could be guided to lower price tags.

Furthermore, reckoned Hyner, financing will become an increasing part of a package Dell offers such customers, beyond just the hardware. Dell was able to provide direct financing to customers when it was awarded a full bank licence by the Central Bank of Ireland in 2013.

Dell will need to offer creative deals, such as seeing customers commit to purchases of new equipment, but not taking delivery or making full payment initially to lower their up-front costs. In gaining the business, Dell will assume greater risk on deals as a consequence.

Also, customers – enterprises and service providers – are seeking clouds that are no longer vanilla, but which are tailored to deliver specific services for a business, such as mobile retail sales campaigns, for example.

“Dell’s financial services arm will be increasingly important,” according to Hyner. He told The Reg that the future is more of a shared-risk model. “If you want them to build, you need more than just server technology.” ®

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